Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

they still preserve, in many places, the appearance of a pavement in pretty good repair, and, if they were not so near home, might perhaps be as much admired as the Via Appia ; there are at present several rivulets to be crossed, and which serve to enliven the view all around. The country is exceeding fruitful in ravens and such black cattle; but, not to tire you with my travels, I abruptly conclude. Yours, &c.

August, 1738.

XVII.

MR. GRAY TO MR. WEST.

I am coming away all so fast, and leaving behind me without the least remorse, all the beauties of Sturbridge Fair. Its white bears may roar, its apes may wring their hands, and crocodiles cry their eyes out, all's one for that; I shall not once visit them, nor so much as take my leave. The university has published a severe edict against schismatical congregations, and created half a dozen new little procterlings to see its orders executed, being under mighty apprehensions lest

Henley and his gilt tub should come to the Fair and seduce their young ones ; but their pains are to small purpose, for lo, after all, he is not coming

* 革

* Orator Henley.

I am at this instant in the very agonies of leaving college, and would not wish the worst of my enemies a worse situation. If

you

knew the dust, the old boxes, the bedsteads, and tutors that are about my ears, you would look

upon

this letter as a great effort of my resolution and unconcernedness in the midst of evils. I fill up my paper with a loose sort of version of that scene in Pastor Fido that begins, Care selve beati.*

Sept. 1738.

he says,

* This Latin version is extremely elegiac, but as it is only a version I do not insert it. Mr. Gray did not begin to learn Italian till about a year and a half before he translated this scene ; and I find amongst his papers an English translation of part of the 4th Canto of Tasso's Gerusalemma Liberata, done previously to this, which has great merit. In a letter to Mr. West, dated March, 1737,

“I learn Italian like any dragon, and in two months am got through the 16th Book of Tasso, whom I hold in great admiration ; I want you to learn too, that I may

know

your opinion of him; nothing can be easier than that language to any one who knows Latin and French already, and there are few so copious and expressive.” In the same letter he tells him, “ that his College has set him a versifying on a public occasion, (viz. those verses which are called Tripos) on the theme of Luna est habitabilis.” The poem is to be found in the Musæ Etonenses, (vol. ii. p. 107.) I would further observe, on this occasion, that though Mr. Gray had lately read and translated Statius, yet when he attempted composition, his judgment immediately directed him to the best model of versification ; accordingly bis hexameters are, as far as modern ones can be, after the manner of Virgil : They move in the succession of his pauses, and close with his elisions.-Mason.

[blocks in formation]

XVIII.

MR. WEST TO MR. GRAY.

I THANK you again and again for your two last most agreeable letters. They could not have come more a-propos; I

was without

any

books to divert me, and they supplied the want of every thing; I made them my classics in the Country, they were my Horace and Tibullus—Non ita loquor assentandi causâ ut probè nosti si me noris, verum quia sic mea est sententia. I am but just come to Town, and, to shew you my esteem of your favours, I venture to send you by the penny post, to your Father's, what you will find on the next page; I hope it will reach you soon after your arrival, your boxes out of the waggon, yourself out of the coach, and tutors out of your memory, Adieu, we shall see one another, I hope, to-morrow.

ELEGIA.

Quod mihi tam gratæ misisti dona Camænæ,

Qualia Mænalius Pan Deus ipse velit,
Amplector te, Graie, & toto corde reposco,

Oh desiderium jam nimis usque meum :
Et mihi rura placent, & me quoq; sæpe volentem

Duxerunt Dryades per sua prata Deæ ;
Sicubi lympha fugit liquido pede, sive virentem,

Magna decus nemoris, quercus opacat humum:
Illuc mane novo vagor, illuc vespere sero,

Et, noto ut jacui gramine, nota cano.

Nec nostræ ignorant divinam Amaryllida sylvæ:

Ah, si desit amor, nil mihi rura placent. Ille jugis habitat Deus, ille in vallibus imis,

Regnat & in cælis, regnat & Oceano ; Ille gregem torosq; domat; sæviq; leonem

Seminis ; ille feros, ultus Adonin, apros : Quin & fervet amore nemus, ramoq; sub omni

Concentu tremulo plurima gaudet avis. Duræ etiam in sylvis agitant connubia plantæ,

Dura etiam & fertur saxa animasse Venus.
Durior & saxis, & robore durior ille est,

Sincero siquis pectore amare vetat :
Non illi in manibus sanctum deponere pignus,

Non illi arcanum cor aperire velim;
Nescit amicitias, teneros qui nescit amores :

Ah ! si nulla Venus, nil mihi rura placent.
Me licet a patriâ longè in tellure juberent

Externâ positum ducere fata dies ;
Si vultus modo amatus adesset, non ego contra

Plorarem magnos voce querente Deos.
At dulci in gremio curarum oblivia ducens

Nil cuperem præter posse placere meæ ; Nec bona fortunæ aspiciens, neq; munera regum,

Illa intrà optarem brachia cara mori.

Sept. 17, 1738.

SECTION THE SECOND.

As I allot this Section entirely to that part of Mr. Gray's life which he spent in travelling through France and Italy, my province will be chiefly that of an Editor ; and my only care to select, from a large collection of letters written to his parents and to his friend Mr. West, those parts which, I imagine, will be most likely either to inform or amuse the reader. The multiplicity of accounts, published, both before and after the time when these letters were written, of those very places which Mr. Gray describes, will necessarily take from them much of their novelty ; yet the elegant ease of his epistolary style has a charm in it for all readers of true taste, that will make every apology of this sort needless. They will perceive, that as these letters were written without even the most distant view of publication, they are essentially different in their manner of description from any others that have either preceded or followed them; add to this, that they are interspersed occasionally with some exquisitely finished pieces of Latin poetry, which he composed on the spot for the entertainment of his friend. But not to anticipate any part of the reader's pleasure, I shall only further say, to forewarn him of a disappointment, that this correspondence is defective towards the end, and includes

« ÎnapoiContinuați »